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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force participation rate
Graph Image for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force participation rate

Source(s): ABS data available on request, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unemployment rate(a)
Graph Image for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unemployment rate(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Estimates for people aged 55-64 years have a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be treated with caution.

Source(s): ABS data available on request, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continue to have a significantly lower rate of labour force participation, and a significantly higher rate of unemployment than non-Indigenous Australians, despite some gains in this area.

In 2002, 63% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 15-64 years) were in the labour force, compared with 79% of the non-Indigenous population in this age group. By 2008, the labour force participation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians had increased to 65% while the rate for the non-Indigenous population had remained stable. Increases in participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were apparent in most age groups but the largest increase was for the 45-54 year age group where the rate rose from 60% in 2002 to 68% in 2008. For young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 15-24 years) the participation rate remained stable (Endnote 1).

In 2002, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 15-64 years was 23%, almost four times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (5.8%). By 2008, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had fallen to 16.6%, however in spite of this decline, the unemployment rate was about four and a half times that of the rate for non-Indigenous people in 2008 (3.6%). The largest decline in the unemployment rate was for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 15-24 (from 36.2% in 2002 to 25.4% in 2008) a fall of 10.8 percentage points, or 30%. However, the largest proportional decline was for 35-44 year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The rate for this age group declined from 17.9% in 2002 to 12.0% in 2008, a fall of almost 33%.

To some extent the continuing disparities in the employment outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians reflect differences in their levels of education. In 2006, only a quarter (24%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians had non-school qualifications compared with around half (46%) of the non-Indigenous population. However, among those with non-school qualifications, the labour force participation rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians was comparable with those of the non-Indigenous population (81% compared with 86%) (ABS 2008).

The differences in employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians also reflect the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to live in remote areas than non-Indigenous Australians, and this may result in limited job opportunities being available. For more information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in education, see the Education and training section.

ENDNOTES

  1. For the non-Indigenous population, information was obtained from the 2002 General Social Survey and the 2007-08 National Health Survey.

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